DuBose family may never get apology from Tensing

Prosecutor called on Tensing to apologize

CINCINNATI -- Sam DuBose's family may never get an apology from Ray Tensing.

Stew Mathews, Tensing's defense attorney, said he hadn't talked with Tensing directly about apologizing, but knew Tensing "feels terrible about what happened" two years ago.

"I don't think he feels an apology is in order," Mathews told 700WLW's Scott Sloan on Wednesday.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters called for the apology Tuesday, just moments after he announced he wouldn't pursue another murder trial against Tensing. The former University of Cincinnati police officer killed DuBose in Cincinnati's Mount Auburn neighborhood on July 19, 2015.

 

"What I would love Ray Tensing to do," Deters said, "would be for him to apologize to the DuBose family because he never has -- ever -- and it makes me sick to my stomach."

There was no question Tensing shot DuBose in the head; instead, the case focused on whether his actions were justified. He's claimed his arm got caught in DuBose's car, causing him to fear for his life.

Tensing took the stand during his two trials and never expressed regret. Jurors deadlocked in both cases.

 

Even though his local prosecution is over, the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of Ohio asked to review the case for potential civil rights violations, Deters said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference. He said his office met with them and turned over its case files.

"I think there's a much greater likelihood of success for the federal people than for us based on the evidentiary rules that we got," Deters said.

READ MORE: Why Tensing isn't off the hook just yet

Deters said he thought his prosecutors made a strong case on the murder and voluntary manslaughter charges but they could not break through biases -- racial and pro-police -- among the jurors. Tensing is white; DuBose was black.

Mathews also saw the divide, and said it was clearly "along racial lines."

"I believe if we tried this case 100 times, it would turn out the same way," he told Sloan.

He admitted Tensing stopped a high percentage of black drivers -- about 80 percent. But he argued that's because the neighborhoods Tensing patrolled have a higher percentage of black residents. Tensing had legal and justifiable reasons for the stops, Mathews said.

"He never stopped anybody because of the color of their skin," Mathews argued.

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He also asserted Tensing was courteous and professional to drivers he stopped through 50 hours of body camera footage. In his evaluation from the university's police department, Tensing was documented as being professional and knowledgeable in traffic stops.

"I can't imagine there's anything in any part of the evidence that would rise to the level of a civil rights violation," he told Sloan.

 

The T-shirt Tensing wore under his police uniform also figured into the case's racial undertones: It bore the Confederate flag. Many see the flag as a symbol of slavery and oppression; to others, it's a symbol of Southern pride.

Tensing said during his first trial the shirt had "no meaning" to him.

Mathews told Sloan he didn't recognize the shirt's racial symbolism before the first trial. He then argued successfully to keep it out of the second trial -- but said jurors apparently discussed it anyway.

"It became a bigger issue when I tried to keep it out the second time than if I had just ignored it," he said.

Didn't know what witness would say

Mathews also denied speculation he'd prearranged Sgt. Shannon Heine's bombshell testimony ahead of the second trial. In a stunning blow to the prosecution, Heine -- a prosecution witness -- testified she thought Tensing's actions could be justified.

That testimony came in response to a question from Mathews and over the objection of assistant prosecutor Seth Tieger.

Mathews said he violated a cardinal rule for defense attorneys when he asked Heine for her opinion, because he had no idea what her answer would be. But he told Sloan he had a sense she and some others in the Cincinnati Police Department's Homicide Unit weren't "on board" with the prosecutor.

 

Some, including DuBose's family, have called on the police chief to investigate Heine and possibly fire her.

"If she can get in trouble for swearing to tell the truth and then telling the truth... then we've got a serious problem in the Cincinnati Police Department," Mathews said.

For complete trial coverage, visit wcpo.com/TensingTrial.

This story contains prior reporting by WCPO's Tanya O'Rourke and Greg Noble.

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